Dessert Before Meals

“My grandfather worked in the coal mines, near western Pennsylvania, and he would tell all of us children that we should always eat our dessert first at our meal. He said that he picked up the habit, because the coal miners would want something nice in their stomach in case they died in the mines, so they would always eat their dessert first. Whenever I would visit my grandfather or my grandmother’s house we would always be treated to eating dessert first. It eventually took on a carpe diem quality, and whenever one of us kids had to do something difficult or dangerous we would eat our breakfast first. I even used this with my own kids a few times.”

This tale is told around mining areas like Pennsylvania and West Virginia, around where Linda grew up. Under “lunch pail” in a glossary of Appalachian terms, the anecdote about how miners ate their dessert first comes up as well (1). What is interesting about Linda’s story, however, is the spin put on it. The story of eating your dessert first when facing difficulties becomes a tradition her family celebrates. Although probably not always facing death in a coal mine, she uses the story as inspiration to cease the moment and enjoy life now, especially if you have to swallow a bitter bill later on.